What Is the Difference Between Tornadoes and Hurricanes?


Quick Answer

Tornadoes are typically identified as a violently rotating column of air that extends from the bottom of a cumuliform cloud to the ground. Hurricanes, on the other hand, are tropical storms that generate heat and have strong, rotating winds.

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Full Answer

Tornadoes form over land and within storms that are often close to the jet stream. These often occur in most parts of the world, but more frequently in the continental United States. Hurricanes form over warm water and are far from the jet stream. These often occur in countries 8 degrees and 15 degrees north and south of the equator.

Tornadoes are usually no more than one-quarter mile wide. The largest tornado ever observed was 2.5 miles wide. The parent storm clouds that produce tornadoes are generally about 10 miles wide. The life cycle of tornadoes is short, ranging from a few seconds to a few hours. An advance warning from forecasters usually comes in no more than 15 to 30 minutes before the occurrence.

Hurricanes can be up to several hundred miles wide. They are typically much larger, ranging from about 100 miles to 1,000 miles wide. The life cycle of hurricanes can last from days to at most 3 weeks. An advance warning from forecasters can come several days prior to landfall.

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